As much power as NBA organizations have, it's still a players league. Teams and fans always have to live with the danger of their favorite and most valuable player ditching town to go to greener pastures. It was the case with Kevin Durant last summer. It was the case with LeBron James 3 summers ago, and it was the case with Chris Paul and Gordon Hayward just a month ago.
No matter how great things seem, no team is safe from losing their beloved star. In this list, we rank the loyalty of the NBA's biggest stars to their current teams. How likely are they to leave next chance they get?
Kawhi Leonard - San Antonio Spurs
Call it San Antonio luck, or just plain coincidence, but the Spurs always seem to get loyal players. From Tim Duncan and David Robinson to Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the Spurs have had a long and impressive history of maintaining talent. Kawhi Leonard, it seems, will follow that trend. Currently, he's leading one of the best teams in the league, which also stands as one of the most respected and well-run. So not only does Kawhi seem like a loyal figure, but the Spurs have given him absolutely no reason to leave.
Verdict: Spur For Life
Steph Curry - Golden State Warriors
The two time MVP has had quite a career for the Warriors. With two Championships and plenty of good times, things couldn't be much better for the Oakland star. But with all that he's accomplished, he may want to try something new. The Charlotte Hornets have long been rumored to have Steph's eye, and it could have been a real possibility had Curry not signed that fresh new contract extension. But that max contract he signed this summer basically locked up his future with the Warriors. He's unlikely to leave.
Verdict: Warrior For Life
Jimmy Butler - Minnesota Timberwolves
He hasn't played a single game for the Wolves yet, so it is hard to gauge the feel there. But judging by what has gone on thus far, Butler seems at home in Minnesota. He looks like he's really embracing the fresh start, and is ready to lead Minny far in the postseason. There are no promises things will work out, and time can always change things. But, at least for now, the Timberwolves seem in a stable place, and Butler looks to be the centerpiece of this new movement.
Verdict: Probably Staying
Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
If not for Giannis, the Bucks would have likely been a lottery team last season. He quite literally lead the Bucks in most statistical categories. Although the Bucks have a good thing going right now, they aren't exactly known as a hot destination. The organization's front office leadership has been questionable at best, and the team has done very little in its long existence. Even with all that being true, would Giannis really be inclined to turn down a chance to lead a young team on the rise through a weak Eastern conference? Not only does he seem to enjoy being in Milwaukee, but it could also provide him the best spotlight in the East to showcase his skillset.
Verdict: Probably Staying
Kristaps Porzingis - New York Knicks
Things have been rough in New York. The franchise just doesn't know how to run things, and KP has been caught in the middle. Whether Melo stays or is traded, serious changes will be coming to the team in the next few years. Right now, no player wants anything to do with the Knicks. Why would Kristaps think any differently? He seems loyal and New York is an awesome market, so staying is far from unlikely. For now, the team is still relatively safe. But if the Knicks don't straighten out soon, though, they could lose the future.
Verdict: On The Fence
Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
For years, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook dominated the West. The duo made the Thunder more dangerous than it had ever been. With KD gone, however, it was up to Westbrook to pick up the reigns. He's done a good job so far, and he has more help coming with PG13 in town. But even with that, one lingering question remains: why hasn't he signed his extension? OKC offered him the max months ago, and he still has yet to sign it. Unfortunately for Thunder fans, it likely means he's at least thinking of a move. Seems like it all depends on what the team does this year.
Verdict: On The Fence
Chris Paul - Houston Rockets
Admittedly, it's hard to gauge this situation for obvious reasons. While this CP-Harden duo seems like a masterpiece on paper, the NBA doesn't always give folks the expected results. Even if they are dominant, do they have any hope of beating Golden State? Possible, but unlikely. There's a reason Chris Paul only really committed to one year in Houston. If this experiment with the Rockets ends up a huge success, he probably stays. But if not, could he have his eyes on a Banana Boat reunion?
Verdict: On The Fence
DeMarcus Cousins - New Orleans Pelicans
In Sacramento, things couldn't be much worse. Boogie Cousins was the only star on a battered, broken organization with no clear direction for the future. While it is true the Pelicans are a better franchise, it's not by much. Over the years, they've been arguably one of the worst organizations in the entire league. That situation is never appealing to a star, especially a guy like Cousins, who's never even made a postseason appearance. If he and Anthony Davis live up to the hype, however, then it could convince Boogie to stay. But if they're just another run of the mill team, he'll be gone.
Verdict: Probably Leaving
LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James isn't a guy that'll turn down a better opportunity. In Cleveland, things could be worse. He's been able to lead the team unquestioned while experiencing profound success in the East. But the Cavaliers have fallen apart recently. Between front office shake-ups, scandals in the locker room, and Kyrie Irving's departure, the team is headed down a very dark path. No matter how much it may hurt his legacy, and no matter how much it'll draw him hate, leaving the team may be the best option at this point. Winning is everything, after all.
Verdict: Goodbye LeBron
Paul George - Oklahoma City Thunder
So, PG13 is finally off the Pacers. he got what he wanted. But does it mean he won't move again? Yes, George is in a great situation in Oklahoma City. He gets to play on a contending team with one of the best players in the world. A lot of players would love to be in his situation. For Paul George, however, he wants something different. He wants his own team, and he wants to live a high lifestyle while he's at it. He wants to be a Laker, and after everything he's been through, it is hard not to see him going there eventually. The only way he stays is if the Thunder somehow make the Finals, and in the loaded West, that's not likely to happen.